Okay, I’ll admit it. I love doing lists. I don’t know why, but I really enjoy ranking games and systems and such. I also love reading other people’s rankings and thoughts on such things. This will not be the last list you see from me on here, though I’ll try not to get into a rut with these.
My rules for this list are simple: I must have played the system. That’s pretty much it. I realize there will be some disagreement here, but this is really my own opinion and I would expect people to have differing opinions. With any luck, my factual errors will be at a minimum and, should any exist, will be inconsequential to the arguments I’ve made for each system.
Believe it or not, this isn’t totally based on Nostalgia (maybe a little). Sure, that does help, but all that put aside, the NES was a pretty amazing little system. It did so much with so little, in terms of power and capability and benefited greatly from developers experimenting and finding their oats. It’s actually quite amazing that developers delivered so many brilliant games given that many of them had little development experience. The NES also benefitted from some of Nintendo’s more archaic licensing rules, which gave the NES an incredible load of exclusive games from third parties. Also, just from an historic point of view, it’s worth mentioning that this system almost single-handedly brought video games back into the main stream after the collapse in the very early 1980’s.
Notable Games/Franchises: Super Mario Brothers, Mega Man, Castlevania, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Adventure Island, Faxanadu, Crystalis, Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy, Kid Icarus, Kirby’s Adventure, Dragon Warrior
The Nintendo Wii received quite a bit of undue criticism for being underpowered and a “kiddy” system. The underpowered part is at least somewhat valid. It didn’t concern me at all (I’d be fine with PS2/GCN/Xbox level graphics, frankly). For those that looked deeper, there were actually quite a few games that weren’t quick cash-ins loaded with waggling gimmicks, which the Wii did, unfortunately, see many of. While it is fair to point out that the Wii did seem to cater quite a bit the more casual audience that helped make it the success it became, there were also quite a few games targeted towards more “serious” gamers. Despite the fact that the most unique and marketed feature of the Wii was the motion control, most of the games I found the most enjoyable employed it in complementary ways as opposed to making it the focal point of the game, excepting any FPS type games here, where using the remote to aim was a given. Aside from the Wii games, Nintendo also included backwards compatibility with the Gamecube as well as the Virtual Console, which saw the release of games from all of Nintendo’s cartridge based systems as well as their past competitor consoles (Sega, Turbo-Grafx 16, Neo Geo). Hundreds of older games that are difficult, if not impossible, to find now? Sign me up.
Notable Games: Metroid Prime Trilogy, Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2, Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Okami, Donkey Kong Country Returns, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, de Blog, Boom Blox, Epic Mickey
3. Xbox 360
I know what you’re thinking. This is all Nintendo fanboy talk. Here is where I deviate from that. I never had an Xbox, but was also never impressed with the library. The games I liked I could get on a PS2. I didn’t pass up the 360, however. Microsoft has done quite a bit wrong with their marketing lately, but the 360 is a pretty great little…well, big machine. It managed to get most of the releases the PS3 received while bolstering it’s own first party deliveries. Even though I’m not a fan of the Halo series, it’s impact can’t be overlooked with Halo 3 being a major selling point for this console. Throw in some originals not of the FPS variety along with strong third party support, and it’s easy to see why this system outsold the PS3 (okay, the pricing situation may have helped a bit as well). Microsoft also matched the Wii to some degree by offering older games for purchase as well as bolstering a large library of digital only games for download.
Notable Games: Halo 3, Fable 2, Dead Space, Bioshock, Rock Band 3, Enslaved, NIER, Final Fantasy XIII, Viva Pinata, Shadow Complex, Metal Gear Solid 4
2. Playstation 2
With consoles, nothing ever goes perfectly. There are always a few glitches, a few missteps, something that throws the company off of their stride. The exception to that statement could very will be the PS2. It was a perfect storm of a console. It had amazing third party support, graphics/power close to or on-par with the competition, backwards compatibility, as well as strong first party support, including new and existing franchises, and exclusive deals with the aforementioned third parties which gave the PS2 exclusives such as Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Dragon Quest, and Devil May Cry. Granted, these series are no longer exclusive in this manner, but where during the heyday of the PS2. Gamers responded to these factors, buying the PS2 in droves. To say it only beat the competition doesn’t do it justice. It destroyed the GCN and Xbox in sales. As much as I love Nintendo and the Gamecube, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand why.
Notable Games/Franchises: Ratchet & Clank, God of War, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Legacy of Kain
1. Super NES
In the end, there is only one console I could put here. I started this list with the NES and admitted that there was at least a bit of nostalgia in that pick. That is not the case here. Oh, there is nostalgia, but I have no qualms putting the quality of games available for the Super NES against anything offered today. The Super NES had more missteps than the PS2….such as aiding to spawn the PS1. Those aside, no console has a stronger game library than this system. Not only did Nintendo pepper this system with some of the most well designed of their own franchises, but third parties took everything they had learned from the NES and Master System and matched Nintendo’s level of quality with their own games. I may have grown up with the NES, but it was the Super NES I played in my early Nintendo years, and I will hold the quality of this system up against any system available today.
Notable Games/Franchises: Super Mario World, Mega Man X, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Final Fantasy, Super Metroid, Starfox, Super Castlevania IV, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter 2, Super Mario Kart, EVO: The Search for Eden, Donkey Kong Country